• Life with the Snow Leopard

    source: Dot Earth

    As advertised, the new release gives a number of stability and speed improvements, much of which may be be imperceptible to the casual user. This is still a must-have upgrade, though it doesn't provide much white-knuckle excitement for the early adopter. It's an important step forward for an operating system that's been two years without a major upgrade, solidifying what's already under the hood and building a strong foundation for what's to come.

    The only significant piece of software I have that just doesn't work is SonicWALL's NetExtender VPN client. SonicWALL claims to be hard at work on a fix, but for now, I'll have to work around (basically, hauling out my poor, ignored ThinkPad).

    Firefox was having some odd, memory-hoggy behavior until I deleted Firefox and Mozilla folders in ~/Library/Application Support. I did mess around with Safari 4 a bit while trying to figure the problem out. It's solid and fast... I'm considering making a shift, despite my general preference for open-source software.

    The Finder is smooth and visually appealing in its new Cocoa-based incarnation. The massive 512x512 icons are a bit much for my MacBook's 13" screen, but offer yet another reason for me to get that Cinema Display I've had my eye on. One subtle but immensely useful enhancement is the ability to set the default scope of a search. Previously, Finder searched your whole drive by default. Now, you can choose the option of setting the local folder as the initial scope of a search, which is more intuitive and a great time saver in terms of workflow.

    The new black-look Dock contextual menu is kind of cool, I guess, but the Mac purist in me is somewhat offended by the inconsistency. Why just that menu in black? The ability to use Grid view in Stacks, though, is a real improvement. I'd avoided using Stacks, because they were just unmanageable for all but the simplest folder. You can nest Stacks, and view those Grids as well. I am thinking of moving my XMenu folders to the Dock, for a full stock-Mac UI.

    One other feature which appeals to my bithead side is Apple's adoption of the true gigabyte. What the Mac OS had been using - and Windows still uses - is the gibibyte: two to the thirtieth power (1,073,741,824) bytes. Now, when Apple says a gig, it means a gig: a billion bytes. It ends up making your drive look bigger, though nothing has changed... and the amount of space used looks bigger, too, which means the space you saved in the upgrade will actually be more than you think.

    All in all, if you have been sitting on the fence, you should feel confident making the upgrade. You'll appreciate the speed bump, everything works smoother, and it makes what was already the best-in-class OS that much better.
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